With women being victimized because of domestic violence, the Government of India is actively spreading awareness about the same and has thus passed the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005. This is an Act of the Parliament of India which aims to protect women from domestic violence which came into action on October 26, 2006.
The Domestic Violence Act or D.V Act has been quite successful as a lot of women have stepped forward to file criminal cases against the perpetrators and many of them even got speedy justice.
Over the years, the scope of the Domestic Violence Act has widened up. For instance, whereas the primary aim of law was to provide protection to the wife or the female live-in partner from domestic violence at the hands of the husband or the male live-in partner or his relatives, the latest decision by the Madras High Court says that complaints under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, need not be made only against men.
The legislation does not only insulate women from being accused of offences mentioned under it but also enables the protection for a woman against another woman like sisters or mothers-in-law.
The Domestic Violence Act covers actual abuse or the threat of abuse whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic and according to the law harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the woman or her relatives would also be covered under this definition. This part is in addition to the Dowry Prohibition Act which is already available for women. Thus, the victims of dowry harassment have been given additional protection in the DVA.
The scope of ‘domestic violence’ has been widened to great extent in the Act as it includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse that is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic. Threatening the woman by not giving her food or goods of day to day requirements too can amount to domestic violence. Also, if the man is harassing the woman for dowry or demands the same from her relatives, it would also amount to domestic violence.
The Protection from DV Act is applicable for those women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser where both parties have lived together in a shared household. The cohabitation may be consanguinity, marriage or a relationship in the nature of marriage, or adoption.
When forced from their in-laws’ house and their inability to claim property rights at their parental property, the women faced a lot of trouble, especially before the amendment of the Hindu Succession Act, 2005. Now, not just the Hindu Succession Act ensures women a part in the ancestral property but the DVA 2005 also ensures the woman’s right to a secure housing as it provides for the woman’s right to reside in the matrimonial or shared household.
Interestingly, the right to reside in matrimonial or shared household is going to exist whether or not she has any title or rights in the household.
Punishing the abuser and also passing a relief to the victim by the way of protection orders that prevent the abuser from aiding or committing an act of domestic violence or any other specified act is what is offered to any woman falling in the ambit. The prohibition order may stop the abuser from entering a workplace or any other place frequented by the victim. The court may also pass prohibition order to stop the abuser from attempting to communicate with the abused, isolating any assets used by the parties and causing violence to the abused, her relatives and others who provide her assistance from the domestic violence.
When the court passes the prohibition order, and the abuser breaches it, then, it becomes a non-bailable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to twenty thousand rupees or with both.
Thus, the Domestic Violence Act is not just about protecting women from domestic violence but also about providing them with the right to shelter and right to live with dignity which has been ensured to them under the Article 21 of the constitution of India.